Santa, Savings, and Fractal geometry

Santa, Savings, and Fractal geometry

Identifier: 2014074 TRUSTEE SAVINGS

The Droste effect — known as mise en abyme in art — is the effect of a picture appearing within itself, in a place where a similar picture would realistically be expected to appear.

The effect is named after the image on the tins and boxes of Droste cocoa powder, one of the main Dutch brands, which displayed a nurse carrying a serving tray with a cup of hot chocolate and a box with the same image. This image, introduced in 1904 was maintained for decades with slight variations. The logo of cheese spread brand The Laughing Cow also features the Droste effect. The effect was used by Giotto di Bondone in 1320, in his Stefaneschi Triptych. The polyptych altarpiece portrays in its center panel Cardinal Giacomo Gaetani Stefaneschi offering the triptych itself to St. Peter.

The appearance is recursive: the smaller version contains an even smaller version of the picture, and so on. Only in theory could this go on forever; practically, it continues only as long as the resolution of the picture allows, which is relatively short, since each iteration geometrically reduces the picture’s size. It is a visual example of a strange loop, a self-referential system of instancing which is the cornerstone of fractal geometry. [Adapted from Wikipedia]

Well the artist responsible for this example didn’t try too hard; after a reasonably recongnisable image within the main picture, the next one is basically a blob.

You can’t escape from Santa, even at NeverSeen Books.

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Trustee Savings Bank Christmas Annual 1949. 32 pages including paper cover. Size: 128 x 196 mm.

This little booklet was one of several published in the early post-war years by the Trustee Savings Bank. It’s full of homilies, puzzles, a children’s page, recipes, and other heart-warming stuff typical of the magazines and advertising material of the period.

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It’s Party Time, and Prince Charles beams out of his pram at his mother, who’s not yet Queen. Meanwhile, there’s a typical English Christmas Tea in progress – though the grandmother in her shawl looks American to me – with the gents all wearing ties, of course. A chocolate Yule Log supplements the bulging Christmas cake, and impossibly real candles light the tree.

The Trustee Savings Bank (TSB) was a British financial institution. Trustee savings banks originated to accept savings deposits from those with moderate means. Their shares were not traded on the stock market but, unlike with mutually held building societies, depositors had no voting rights; nor did they have the power to direct the financial and managerial goals of the organisation. Directors were appointed as trustees (hence the name) on a voluntary basis. [Wikipedia] The complex history and merger with Lloyds is here.

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Condition: Good – some creasing, mostly around the spine area.

Price: £6.00 plus postage. Enquiries: s-herbert@easynet.co.uk

What d’ye LACK?

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Identifier: 2014047 WHAT D’YE LACK?

What d’ye LACK? The Times Publishing Company, Ltd. [1936] 24 pages plus cover, all on heavy stock.
Anonymous. Illustrations by Aubrey Hammond. Size: 216 x 279 mm

Those of us who are of a certain age will remember when the front page of The Times had no headlines, pictures, or even news stories, but only classified advertisements. The proprietors finally abandoned this tradition in 1966. If the presentation of the newspaper was somewhat dour in times past, it shouldn’t be assumed that the marketing was always unimaginative. This brochure from 1936 is based on a selection of amusing snippets from the pages of ‘The Thunderer’ dating from the 18th and 19th centuries.

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The intention was that readers would be entertained by the contents, and then realise that The Times was still an effective place to advertise; the final page of the brochure giving display rates. ‘What d’ye lack?” – a repeated phrase in Oscar Wilde’s fairy tale The Fisherman and His Soul – was an old street-seller’s cry.

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The quotes from old advertisements include one for a Villa ‘near Tooting’, illustrated by Pan sitting on a guidepost showing the way to nearby Balham; long before Peter Sellers made it “funny”. Presumably the quaint 19th-century idea of an ‘elegant villa’ in the London suburb – described in the advertisement as being ‘in the country’ – which by 1936 was just about filled with sprawling building development of cheap housing, was an amusing thought. Ironically, there’s many an elegant villa in Tooting (and even more in Balham) that today has an asking price of £4 million and upwards.

Aubrey Lindsay Hammond, (1894 -1940) attended Byam Shaw School of Art in England, and The Academie Julian in Paris. He designed posters for the Underground Group and London Transport, 1925-1934. Dr Chris Mullen writes:
“[Hammond] was an early example of an English designer prepared for any commercial challenge that came his way – book jackets, illustrations commercial and interpretative, posters, art direction for films, and designs for the stage – sets and costumes.”

One of his most famous works was the striking cover for the 1927 Readers Library edition of Thea von Harbou’s novel Metropolis.
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This two-colour job for The Times is quite scarce. The National Art Library (V&A) has a copy, but that’s the only one listed in WorldCat.

Condition: Generally good. Two small stains on front cover. Some foxing throughout. Mark on back cover (which is blank).

Price: £34.00 plus postage. s-herbert@easynet.co.uk

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Mustard and Gramophones

identifier: 2014050 COLMAN’S RHYMES

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Rhymes & Tunes For Little Folks. J. & J. Colman, [England] c.1902. Booklet, 20 pages including cover. 109 x 138mm.

A small advertising booklet featuring illustrated nursery rhymes, including one showing a family listening to a gramophone. This important illustration has been superbly researched in Antique Phonograph News. I have reproduced below a major part of the article; the full piece, with references, is online here and is well worth reading in full.

Early Nod to Nipper
by Betty Minaker Pratt and Bill Pratt

J. & J.Colman Ltd, in business since 1814, was well aware of the enormous dividends to be reaped from investment in advertising their yellow tins of mustard powder. One of their long term promotional items was a series of booklets that was given away free to children every Christmas from the 1880s into the 1950s. “Children treasured these booklets. For many they were the first and only books they ever owned.”

Rhymes and Tunes For Little Folks is a 20-page booklet, 4 1/4 x 5 1/2 inches, with 16 nursery rhymes, musical scores with lyrics, and 12 colour illustrations. The first page inside the front cover shows “J. & J. Colman’s Xmas Greetings to Their Young Friends All Over the World”.

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Loosely adapted from Francis Barraud’s painting, it depicts the familiar subject of the little terrier, Nipper, listening intently to the recorded message emanating from a Berliner “Trademark” Gramophone. The talking machine may not be an exact rendering of the Type B Berliner, but the artist is clearly familiar with the model showing a brass horn, side brake, and external spring box mounted on the back, with a crank handle on top. In this rendition Nipper, with two black-tipped ears, is placed prominently in the foreground, but he is not the focus of attention. The boy in the paper party hat with a trumpet is centre stage, in his Little Lord Fauntleroy suit. Mothers had imposed this fashion on boys since 1886 when Frances Hodgson Burnett published her popular children’s novel.

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This is an early use of the Nipper theme. Page 3 of the booklet, “Sing a Song of Six Pence”, showing the king and queen, confronted with a hopelessly underbaked blackbird pie, conveniently dates the illustration with the depiction of a sixpence coin of 1902.

… So, the endearing painting of “His Master’s Voice”, soon to become famous all over the world – some say the most recognizable trademark ever – was an apt and topical subject for the Colman’s group of artists and their series of seasonal nursery books for little folks.’

Antique Phonograph News
Canadian Antique Phonograph Society. Nov-Dec 2006

Only one copy of Rhymes & Tunes For Little Folks is shown in WorldCat.

Condition: Generally good. There is some rust staining in center margin of some pages (staples now removed). Minor marks to cover. Colours bright, pages firm and supple.

Price: £24.00 plus postage. s-herbert@easynet.co.uk

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colmans7Don’t do it!

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